How did you feel when you found out that you won Atlantic Hairstylist of the Year?
I was in disbelief and I was very excited! The category that I was in was so stacked this year with fantastic talent created by my friends and peers, and I thought for sure it wasn’t going to be me with all of that amazing work. I was so proud that I got this award after years of putting my competition work out there.
How and why did you start competing in the Contessa Awards?
Earlier on in my career I taught hairstyling and it was at that time where I wasn’t working behind the chair every day which is when I started competing. I wanted to keep my hands in it to keep myself motivated and fresh, and I wanted to share that with my students. I started doing live competitions and then that morphed into doing photography-based competitions like the Contessas.
Tell me more about your collection. What was the inspiration behind it?
My collection this year, which I called ‘Dark Fairy Tale’, was inspired by many things. I normally look at things like architecture and anything that inspires me colour wise in nature. This collection’s inspiration really came from wanting to showcase strength of femininity in our society.
I wanted to use strong shapes and colour placements to tell the story of that female empowerment which I think is so important. I named it what I did because it just struck me. When I was picking the photos, I looked at the collection and those strong female figures that show a vulnerability really reminded me of a fairy tale.
Tell me about some of the colours and techniques you used in your collection.
I wanted to showcase a lot of different colour techniques, some that are on trend right now and some that we’re starting to see come back on trend. I wanted to do some block colouring and that strong vertical colour placement, and I wanted to show that progression of something very soft morphing into something much stronger and bolder.
For my colour choice, I always like to think about my models themselves and what would suit them in terms of their skin tone, eye colour and all of that. Then it’s about taking it to that next level of being something you wouldn’t see behind the chair each and every day. Those blues, greens and violets in my collection were inspired by a flower arrangement I saw while I was putting together my collection.
Did you face any challenges with this collection?
Shockingly I didn’t. Everything came together quite organically to be honest. I didn’t know what my styling was going to be like ahead of time. I had a roadmap of what I wanted to do colour wise for each model. In terms of cutting and styling, those came together somewhat last minute. It just happened and seemed very fitting for what I was going for.
I have a tendency to stress about every little thing but for this collection it was surprising that it fell into place as organically as it did. Maybe because of the fact that I let go a little with this collection is why I ended up winning.
How did it feel to win a Contessa after the two hard years of the pandemic?
It absolutely added to my win. I couldn’t have been more honoured to win a Contessa first of all, but to have won it and been able to accept it live in front of my friends, peers and colleagues, just added a whole other level of how special it was to me, especially after these past few years of not having as much human interaction as we were used to. It really solidifies how amazing our industry is and how the comradery and support for each other is unmatched compared to any other industry.
Just being in the same room as my colleagues, seeing the presentations and seeing everyone’s collections was so inspirational and being able to be surrounded by that much talent and inspiration in just one room drives me to do more and move forward.
What do you enjoy most about competing in the Contessa awards?
For me, competing isn’t so much about competing against other people, but it’s more about putting myself out there and proving to myself that I can do it. For all of those years that I entered and didn’t win, if I can see growth and see how I’ve improved, that in itself is so huge. That’s what drives me forward with competing. Of course, the ultimate goal is to win, so this year that really was the icing on the cake for me.
Do you have any advice for stylists who are thinking about entering the Contessas for the first time?
I think the biggest thing is not to give up and to not doubt yourself. You can’t measure your self-worth based on whether or not you win or where you think you fall against the competition. You are just as talented in your own way so if it’s something that you want to do, you have to keep doing it because if you want it bad enough, you will end up on that stage.
Salon: Alicia Langille Hair Art, Halifax, N.S.
Makeup/Maquillage: Alex Poirier
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Alicia Langille
Photos: Denis Duquette